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A Formula For Good Sport

Every athlete needs to work on technique. Skill matters, but the game asks different questions when it's time to compete. The game is not the time to work on your skills. And it's not the time to think it's not your day because you feel out of sync.

When it's time to play, you should only care about accepting how you feel and where your game is and working with it to try and win. What is required is being vulnerable.

Many athletes shy away from the big moments. They don't willingly put themselves under pressure where they might be embarrassed. They fear the thought of messing up when everyone is watching. But by courageously embracing vulnerabilities, the athlete can accept the chance to achieve.

By accepting this opportunity, they risk being utterly disappointed. The athlete who performs under pressure has embraced the opportunity rather than the challenge. Handling this pressure is the secret every athlete is looking for. And I have found the answer in the most unlikely place.

It is human nature to make mistakes. Recently, I was helping my wife take down balloons used during the 75th anniversary of a campground where my wife's ministry runs. Over the past 75 years, this Camp Pinnacle has impacted and changed the lives of thousands of young girls who have attended the camp. Many of these girls have gone on to become missionaries around the world. And many more have a special connection and commitment to supporting missions worldwide. As a child of missionaries, I grew up overseas as a beneficiary of women who supported international missions.

But on this occasion, I made a big mistake while popping balloons. To speed up the balloon popping, I split the scissors to hold one part in each hand and then popped the balloons. I was popping so fast and furious that I crossed my hands in haste, plunging one of the scissor tips into my right hand. Little did I know how this mistake would cost me dearly. Weeks later, I found myself in a cast, recovering from surgery on my right thumb to reattach a tendon that the scissors had ruptured.

So, what does a right thumb have to do with generosity? Until now, I've never thought much about how I used my right thumb. When I lost the full range of motion in my right thumb, I came to understand its role. From this day forward, I'll always appreciate the importance of each finger on my hand in daily activities. I had to begin to rely more on others. I needed help with simple things like buttons on my shirt and opening things that required two hands. I couldn't type very well. I couldn't write with a pen; I'm right-handed. Because I needed people's help, I realized how thankful I was for that help.

In this improbable place, I realized how thankful I was for everyone who had helped me. The countless number of times people had blessed me with opportunities. The beautiful ways people had encouraged me to do things I did not think possible. I began to practice being more generous with my time and resources, and I even started to consider ways I could make changes in my life to increase my ability to serve more. And I'm even thankful for my mistakes, which have taught me valuable lessons.

I have discovered that gratitude, when nurtured, produces a natural, spontaneous overflow of positive energy. It's a powerful force that can transform our lives; we should never take it for granted.

Our objective as athletes is simple: to compete under the pressure of winning. But with competition comes the challenge that losing is very much possible. I never thought my thumb was at risk the day I volunteered to take down the balloons. But like my thumb, failing in competition can easily break my spirit when I lose or suffer setbacks. And sometimes, it feels like it is damaged beyond repair. I needed the skill of a surgeon to repair my thumb. And I needed the skill of a therapist on my road to full recovery. It was a recovery process that took time, but I persevered. If your passion for the game is suffering, I want to be your performance coach to repair and recover your spirit for competition.

I've discovered a powerful formula for good sports: opportunity + generosity (over time) = results. The athlete must transform thinking, treating every challenge as an opportunity. The athlete must apply generosity in ways like serving others, giving back, and appreciating the privilege of competition. When done over time, you will see results.

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